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Monday, December 15, 2008

Let's Not Pretend

Ok, let's make a deal. I will not pretend to be a salesperson, a doctor, a banker...if...(and I said if) these people stop pretending to be instructional designers and/or trainers?

Why do organizations take people with no formal training in instructional design, adult education or anything close and make them a trainer/instructional designer. It is not fair to that person and it is not fair to the trainees within the organization.

Organizations do it because the people they choose are "Good at what they do?" or "Have been with the organization a long time." or "Are good at speaking in front of people" or "Know a lot about the subject."

None of which qualifies them to design, develop and/or deliver instruction...none.

Please why can't organizations hire people with the right degrees and right knowledge for the right job???


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Jeff Goldman said...

I agree completely. Too many people out there are in the mind set that you must be a subject matter expert to teach a subject and instructional design is ancillary.

My experience is the exact opposite. I have the MA in ISD, but absolutely no background in the banking industry, in which I work. I actually have found not being a SME to be an advantage, since I am much like my training audience, "new to the subject," thus closer to "knowing my audience."

Karl Kapp said...


I couldn't agree more...sometimes the less experience is more insightful. In fact, I don't like the term SME ("expert" has too much baggage).

I like the term CIP which means "Content and Information Provider" (someone who provides content...less of a burden than an expert.)

Thanks for your comment

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of "CIP" rather than SME. I don't know that it would ever catch on, but it's a good idea. I also agree with Jeff that not being an expert in the content can be an advantage. I do a lot of playing the "naive learner" with my SMEs/CIPs.

One of my issues with the push towards everyone having an advanced degree in ID is that I see a lot of snobbery towards people like me who come from a public school teaching background. There are too many people who assume that teachers only teach because they're too stupid to do anything else, and I see a lot of that in this debate. The argument pretty much seems to be "your degree has the word 'education' in it rather than 'instructional' so you clearly know nothing about how people learn." I'm sorry, but that's a load of crap. Plenty of what I learned in my teacher training is relevant to what I do now, and the elitism doesn't do anything to help your case.

Karl Kapp said...


Let's try to use CIP and see if it catches on...we could start a revolution.

In terms of teachers being good instructional designers...they are some of the best. The idea of breaking down content into chunks, the concept of keeping learners engaged, the idea of planning out a lesson...all great teacher skills that translate into great instructional design skills. I don't think the degree needs to be specifically in "Instructional Design" but too many people with only a degree in "Finance" are designing and delivering instruction to their peers.

In terms of too "stupid" to do anything else...that is very misguided. I look at finanical "leaders" who have run their companies and this country into the ground (and auto leaders) those folks are "stupid." Teachers are not.

What I was discussing in this post, however, was professionals in organizations who have no...none...nada training or formal education in teaching others or designing instruction.

They are just good at what they do so they turn around and teach the distraction of the learners who are trying to actually learn something.

No use of instructional strategies, no thought around adult learning principles, no idea of how to teach rules or concepts vs declarative knowledge.

So that was what prompted the post. People with "education" degrees of one sort or another make excellent designers. People with no "education" instruction in their so much.

Thanks for the comment.

Mark said...

I'll second or third (maybe 4th this comment). I just posted without reading this a spot on my blog about teachers as ID'ers.

How would we pronounce CIP -- would it be KIP or CYPE or CHIP or SIP....? I don't know, I like CYPE -- sounds Gothic!

Donald Clark said...

No matter if you call them a SME, CIP, or EP (exemplary performer), it is normally better to be a beginner or learner as Jeff and Karl notes. I learned my ID and ISD skills in the Army and we were consistently reminded that the "experts" often left important things out (they thought if they could do it, so could everyone else) and/or thought that the learners had to "know" everything they did (after all, how could others possibly perform if they did not know everything you knew?).

Thus, if you happened to be an EP on the task you were designing a learning process for, ensure you backed up and looked at it with an objective eye to ensure you included what had to be there and omitted all the unneeded stuff.

Karl Kapp said...

I agree, I think sometimes the best thing to do is to talk to someone who has only been on the job a short period of time and then we can ask what he or she wished they knew from the training.

Thanks for the comment and the addition of the term EP.

And Mark, I was thinking of the SIP pronounciation but I can live with CYPE.:)

Joe Mendrzycki said...


How about KARL: Knowledge And Resource Liaison?

How would we pronounce it? Hmmmmm...

Karl Kapp said...


Love It!:)

F Zukoski said...

Great to see my biggest frustrations validated among peers. I, too, have a decade of secondary school teaching experience, M.Ed. in instructional technology, AND eight years of copywriting/translating/content management experience yet finding it difficult to break into the field of corporate learning and instructional design. I keep hearing the same "lacking subject matter expertise" when in fact NOT having subject matter expertise is our advantage.

Apparently, many organizations do not understand that as educators we become students first then instructor. Our expertise is the ability to deliver the content and information in appropriate chunks and facilitate learning in a strategic, logical, and consistent manner and in a language understood by the learner.

I currently work as Web content specialist and our department is experiencing a software upgrade. Originally, the program developers (SMEs) were delivering training and leaving the users more confused and frustrated then they started. I was able to work one on one with an SME to ask questions that were relevant to the user and design training to meet their needs. I got further in one 2-hr session than they had gotten in 3 months.

So I am with you. I love the idea of working the term "CIP" or any other that acknowledges our experience and contribution!

Special kudos to fellow public school teachers, especially middle school...hard-core training ground.

Karl Kapp said...

F Zukoski,

Thanks for your insightful comment.

Unfortunately, I think this is a common frustration. I agree that many organizations do not "understand that as educators we become students first then instructor" and many more think just because someone developed software...they are qualified to teach it. As you pointed out, we all know how that works.

Great insight.

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